Maggie Stiefvater explains why YA is a “bullshit label”

Maggie Stiefvater Talks About Why the ‘YA’ Label is Bullshit!

Maggie Stiefvater is the bestselling author of the Raven Cycle, The Scorpio Races, and the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. The fourth and last book in the Raven Cycle, The Raven King came out this week, it follows on from The Raven Boys (2012), The Dream Thieves (2013), and Blue Lilly, Lilly Blue (2014). For anyone who hasn’t read the series it is full of Welsh folklore, plenty of teen angst with love triangles galore, and a 1973 Chevrolet Camaro.

In her interview with Vulture, just before The Raven King was released, Maggie talked about why she thinks the ‘YA’ label on books is bullshit.

Why do you think the story and the characters of the Raven Cycle fit into the realm of YA?
The thing about YA is that — am I going to say this out loud? I am going to say it out loud: It’s kind of a bullshit distinction. I didn’t have YA when I was growing up, but now YA has evolved into something quite specific: a story told from a teen’s point of view. So I feel like it’s YA because we say it’s YA — that’s what it comes down to. I could give you a big, overarching thematic statement about how YA is about coming-of-age stories and learning who you are, but I’m 34 now, and I’m still doing those exact same things. So the question I wanted to ask with the Raven Cycle as far as genre goes was: Can I just tell a story? Can I get away with it in the YA section? And the answer is yes because YA is whenever you say, “This is a YA book.”

When do you think the YA label became so specific?
I think it’s when it started to make money, to tell you the truth. I haven’t been in this business as long as other folks, but when I first started there were no rules because nobody was paying attention to us — we were the crazy kids over in the corner writing weird things. But once it started making money, people who weren’t YA readers started writing about YA and telling us what it was.

People who write about YA tend to reference the “supernatural trend” or the “dystopian trend.” Do you think there are certain fads that cycle through YA?
I do, but I don’t necessarily think that’s a negative thing. There are people who follow trends for the business aspect, but there’s another side to it, which is that we’re all bathing in the same creative juices, so we tend to arrive at the same kind of creative conclusion. So natural trends appear because everyone is reacting to certain work.

To find out if Stiefvater did set John Green’s car on fire and how she came up with the Raven Cycle, read her full interview.